Perf – 15 February 2019

My coffee mountain was being eroded and in need of replenishment.

It was a lovely morning. Blue sky and just a few thin white clouds. A perfect day to travel up to Perf for some coffee beans and some loose tea. A long way to go for coffee you say when you could just drive up to Tesco. Hmm. Does Tesco offer Cuba Turaquino? Or Honduras? Or real Columbian? Does Tesco sell loose Assam Long Leaf tea? Hmm. I didn’t think so. I could have ordered online, but the Cuban is the problem. The Bean Shop uses PayPal for online purchasing and PayPal being american can’t be used for purchases from Cuba. Obama was heading in the right direction and it looked as if he was going to remove the blockade from dealing with Cuba. The blond combover president stopped that and the upshot for me is that I can’t buy my Cuban coffee from The Bean Shop in Perf online. I can buy it perfectly legally and without problem over the counter, so that’s why we were travelling up the M9 to Perf today. Well, that and the fact that it was a lovely spring-like day for a run.

Got there and after a Nero coffee to refresh us we went for a walk to ‘The Ship’. The bit of the pavement that overhangs the Tay and always reminds us of being on a cruise. There were loads of folk there today. I managed to get PoD which was a bloke gazing out over the river. Then we walked through the riverside park and across to the playing fields, a bit we’ve never been to before in all the time we’ve walked through the park. From there it was a short walk to The Bean Shop and the coffee. With it safely in the bag we walked back through the town and drove home. The blue sky was still there and so were the few white clouds.

The sun was so welcoming, I went for a walk in St Mo’s to feed the ducks and get some more photos. Light was beginning to fade as I was heading home to more pakora and then Scamp’s Prawn Curry.

Today’s 28 Drawings sketch was done just after midnight last night and was done from a ‘Photo Booth’ shot taken on the iMac. I think it’s a fair representation of the bloke who looks out at me when I’m shaving in the morning.

When we were talking to Hazy this morning I said I’d note the music I’m listening to while I write the blog.  Today it’s Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

Tomorrow is Saturday and we have no plans.

An hour in the Toon – 14 February 2019 ♡

Actually less than an hour according to the parking machine in Cowcaddens.

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee this morning, so I was free to do anything I wanted. What I ended up doing was tidying up the back bedroom even more. Scamp had left me two Creme Eggs as a Valentine’s prezzy! I had that with a coffee while I tried today’s medium Sudoku. When she came back the clouds had rolled in and it wasn’t looking like a day for going to Mugdock or anywhere else of that ilk. I had lunch and afterwards decided I’d go out somewhere to take some foties. My first choice was Haggs, down by the canal at Haggs to be more precise. I was halfway there when I made the decision that there was no point, because you really need good light for landscape, and the light was poor. So I turned back and pointed the Juke at the carpark for the Luggie. Maybe a walk down the Luggie would work. After I’d parked I reconsidered. I wanted to go and look for drawing ink in a new shop I’d found near Cowcaddens underground. I couldn’t go tomorrow, weekends are alway accounted for, so what about Monday. Nope, Monday is too busy as it is and Tuesday is accounted for. It’s in the wrong end of Sausageroll Street for a Wednesday detour, and next Thursday is coffee with the boys. Why don’t I just go today and hope to get some foties in town. Sorted. Turned round and drove into Glasgow.

Parked at Cowcaddens and walked round the disaster that is the Art School (how much does even the scaffolding cost?) Finally arriving at the Paint & Mortar shop that sells graphics stuff to students at the GSA (Glasgow School of Art), but is perfectly happy to take money from ordinary punters too. Two very helpful sales staff told me that they didn’t have the ink I was looking for. All their drawing ink had a shellac base which will completely destroy a normal fountain pen in about a week. I used to have an old Osmiroid fountain pen when I was an apprentice draughtsman. It’s the only fountain pen that would survive being filled with shellac based Indian ink. You can’t get them anymore.

I walked back to the car and grabbed a few shots in the soft light that had appeared after the clouds had broken up. One of them made PoD after a bit of post-processing in Lightroom. I was quite pleased with the effect. Put my ticket in the parking machine and I’d used less than an hour of time. Had a walk, clarified what ink I needed and got a couple of photos all in less than 60mins!

Came home and after manipulating the image, I got stuck into making some pakora using a new recipe I’d found on YouTube. Mercifully it worked because there was a fair bit of prep needed. It still needs a bit more work, but the basis is there now. Scamp agreed that it tastes a lot better than that first recipe. Dinner tonight was a curry from ASDA and we both agreed it better than the Tesco version.

Watched the Sewing Bee tonight while I copied one of Tuesday’s photos of Scamp’s Christmas Rose. Not entirely satisfied with with it, but it’s not too bad. Halfway through the 28 Drawings already. How time flies.  I don’t know how those people in the GBSB can take an old pair of jeans and make a dress out of it without a pattern.  I think I’m doing well if I can repair a pocket.  Making a bow tie is the limit of my abilities.  Maybe I will start that waistcoat this year.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Weather fairies seem to think it’s going to be good, but they said that about today and although it did eventually brighten up, it took it’s own sweet time about it. Still, probably go somewhere nice.

Cauld Reekie – 2 February 2019

Today we went to Embra. About a couple of thousand rugby supporters went too. I think they were all on our train.

We’d been promising ourselves that we’d go to Embra since well before Christmas, but with the combination of health problems and rodent problems, not to mention the train problems, we didn’t get. Today we did. The seven coach ‘leccy train was mobbed, but we did get a seat and of course we got off with all the rugby supporters going to see Scotland get humped by Italy. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when our team won! It was cold enough to freeze the snotters dripping from my nose as we walked up to our usual Nero. How cold must it be when you’re wearing a kilt and sitting in Murrayfield for a couple of hours? I suppose most of them had some form of alcoholic central heating so wouldn’t feel the cold too much.

We walked through the farmer’s market and I got a bit of shoulder mutton for tomorrow’s dinner. It should be cooked like steak apparently. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow. After that we walked along Rose Street, had a coffee in Waterstones in Princes Street and then just missed the train home, so had to sit for half an hour in Haymarket. That’s where today’s PoD came from. The poor woman must have wondered what the bloke across the concourse was doing, and why is he laying his camera on the floor? Much quieter train home while the tartan clad hordes roared their team on to victory.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was a bowl of pears and I’m pretty happy with it. I just wish Facebook would get it into its tiny head that I’m not selling it!!!

For tomorrow there are no plans. We’ll just see what the day brings.

Powered by Duracell – 26 January 2019

Today we were up early, bags packed and out by 11.30 for our trip to Strathaven, posh centre of South Lanarkshire.

We were off to the Strathaven Hotel for a day of dance workshops (boiler suits not compulsory). Decided that through Hamilton was the quickest way on a normal day, but given it was a Saturday and around midday, it would be chaos. So we headed for the scenic route up to Canderside and then through Stonehouse and Strathaven itself to the hotel which used to be in farmland through an avenue of trees, but that was fifty odd years ago. It took a bit longer than I’d anticipated, but we found the hotel without any problem. There were a few trees left standing, but hardly an avenue. The farmland was gone, of course, covered with private housing and a primary school. The hotel looked fine with a modern restaurant extension to the existing old building.

Booked in and found our way to our room through the tortuous labyrinth that you’d expect in an 18th century country house hotel, and then found our way back to the ballroom. Wishing all the time that we’d had the forethought to lay down a path of breadcrumbs! Nice large and intimidating ballroom with the equally large and intimidating Diane! One of those people who stands right in front of you invading your space. An alpha female if such a thing exists.

The workshop started with waltz with only four couples. Scamp and I both agree that we learned a lot. Then a short bit of quickstep, concentrating on the technical part of the ‘fishtails’. In jive we did a Boston Cross or Kick ( the jury’s still out on the exact name) and the Four Chassis. Both of which have now slipped my teflon memory (nothing sticks!). Then lunch. We waited over 40 minutes for a small plate of sandwiches. That seemed to be par for the course, because other people sitting near us complained about the wait too. Overwhelmed or understaffed it was difficult to tell.

Back in the workshop Diane’s contingent had arrived and the room was filling up. We were told to simply dance a waltz to warm up. This was our first time attempting a waltz in real ballroom and we both made a hash of it. It was obvious that the Diane’s class were much more practised practitioners of dance. Everyone was dancing sedately around us and giving us a wide berth, obviously realising we were just learning. We should have worn “L” plates, or at least “P” plates. However, one idiot in particular decided that he and his partner didn’t need to follow the anticlockwise rule and started zig zagging across the dance floor. One time in particular, just as Scamp and I were getting our feet sorted out, he landed right in front of us and we had to do an emergency stop. Then they were off again in a different direction and at top speed. Powered by Duracell. He was a bit like a dragonfly in that he seemed to move only in straight lines at really high speed. However his irresistible force met an immovable object. Me. I just got so pissed off with this unnecessary show off that the next time he shot past us and tried to move off in another direction, I moved over into his path and crashed into him. I apologised and then we staggered our way further around the floor. It was an accident, honest 😉

When the next workshop started it was obvious that we were far out of our depth. This was Diane time. She had already stamped her authority on this group, her group. She shouted and postured and shouted some more. We watched for a while then went up to the room to read for an hour or so, since it was dull and wet outside and worst of all, I’d forgotten my camera.

Dinner was a protracted affair. It took over two hours from Starter to Coffee. Food was quite good and well presented, it was just the time lag in between courses that made the whole thing tiresome. Even more tiresome was the dancing afterwards. No salsa, very little jive. This was the Diane’s Dance Show aimed fairly and squarely at her own group. We waited until the end and did manage to dance salsa to one of the tracks and also performed our version of the Seven Spins, but didn’t really attempt any ballroom. More practise needed there. However one of our dinner companions provided PoD. He did look very like somebody from the ’60s, and his name was, in fact, John!

Dragged ourselves off to bed. As I climbed the stairs, I thought “That’s twelve hours of my life I’ll never get back.”

Tomorrow we’ll have breakfast and leave this sorry place.

Out even earlier – 18 January 2019

Why is it when I set the alarm on my phone to make sure I wake up on time, I don’t sleep for more than an hour at a time?

Up and out for 8.20 this morning to go to the docs for a blood test at 8.50. I needed that half hour to scrape the car and get the temperature up to a reasonable level where your breath doesn’t freeze instantly in front of your face. Then I had to drive through the hosts of parents driving their children to school to make sure their little feet and knee joints didn’t wear out prematurely.

Got parked and grabbed today’s PoD of the sun colouring the sky and clouds above Carbrain. A bit of a misnomer, because everyone in Cumbersheugh knows there isn’t a brain in Carbrain. I walked a bit further and watched two women being terrorised by marauding feral seagulls behind Boots the Chemist. Great beasts of things, they were and squawking like banshees and the seagulls were almost as bad. By the time I got to the doc’s, the sun had broken free of the horizon and was lighting up the sky properly. Another shot in the bag which might have beaten the first if it wasn’t for the ugly flat roofed Carbrian flats with windows and no doors. “Blots on the Landscape”, could have been the title. Did my Tony Hancock impersonation (if that makes no sense to you, Google ‘The Blood Donor’, a Hancock classic) and then headed home for breakfast which on this cold, clear morning would be porridge and a cup of Assam. The best central heating known to man.

Scamp was determined to renew our passports online since she heard that you could take your own photo and get it validated immediately. It’s a brilliant system and I’m still not sure if it is a really clever algorithm (the word of the moment, don’t you know?) or an actual human sitting there giving thumbs up or thumbs down. Possibly this will be the ultimate Turing Test some day. Anyway, the upshot of it was we passed the test and ordered our shiny new passports. Then we’d to send our old passports off to be cancelled or redacted or simply have their corners cut off. Again will it be by machine or will it be by a minimum wage human? Who knows. Just so you know, you have to actually post the passport off, you can’t simply stuff it into the USB port in the back or side of your computer. That’s a pity. It kind of goes against the digital ethos of renewing your passport online. That said, the whole thing is much better than take the photo, fill in the form, post the lot away, wait a week, get a refusal because Gort says the corner of your mouth is slightly upturned and you might, just might be starting to smile. DO IT AGAIN PROPERLY THIS TIME. Yes, this is a big step forward, even if we don’t know if Gort is human or android.

Drove to Blantyre to Carrigan’s and had dinner tonight with Margaret and Billy. Food was good and plentiful. My roast gammon had been sitting under the heat lamp for a few minutes more than I’d have liked, but it was more than made up for with the dessert. Total silence while four of us struggled with our Tablet Ice Cream. Astounding dessert. Totally unnecessary, but total gluttony!

Managed to find my way back on to the M74 only to find the M73 turnoff was closed tonight, but then I navigated my way off and over the M74 and back on to the M73 turnoff on the other side. That confused the satnav.

Tomorrow I believe we may be going to Stirling to Waitrose for food. Hopefully we won’t be getting up early and I’m not setting my alarm, so I should sleep less fitfully than last night.

Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.

The dug’s away tae Hamilton – 12 January 2019

Tae buy the wean a bell.

It was a dull morning, but it didn’t matter.  We were off to Hamilton.  Not “Tae buy the wean a bell”, but to have a curry in the Bombay Cottage.  We hadn’t been there for years and then my brother mentioned that he and his wife were going there and we decided we’d try it again to see if it still retained its former high place in our memory.  It did, and it still does.  Surprisingly, even after twenty odd years some of the original staff are still there!

After that, we were driving home when I suggested we go for a coffee at Robroyston, and that’s what we did.  Two flat whites and two pieces of sweet stuff, because it was the weekend.  When we were driving home from there I could see the light on the hills starting to shape up nicely, but knew that if I chased it, I’d be too late.  Sometimes it’s better just to watch it than try to capture something that doesn’t represent it at all.

Back home, Scamp started to tidy out the “Towel Cupboard”,  although it holds more electronic bits and pieces now than towels.  That’s where we found the film canister with some processed slide film.  Three short 12 exposure strips which I’ve now scanned and stored in Lightroom.  Lots of memories.  Some of places that are no longer there.  Some of people who are no longer there.  Some of people who’ve grown up.  All of them interesting to us.  Glad I found them.  One of the images found its way into today’s PoD, along with the film strips and an old Zenit 12 SLR.  Quite a lot of work creating the finished image, but I won’t bore you with the details.

I used the small Manfrotto tripod to shoot the basic shot.  I had to make myself a new tripod screw because I lost the last one during the week down the Luggie Water.  Tonight’s was made from a 1/4″ Whitworth bolt and a small piece of a brush handle.  Quite proud of my work!

Tonight’s entertainment was “Sing” from Netflix, because there was nothing else worth watching on terrestrial TV.  What a find it was.  Just a bit of fluff, really but the animation was quite excellent, much better than some of  the crap that was on over Christmas.  Really enjoyed the music too.  It’s not often we both laugh out loud at something on TV, but we did tonight!

Tomorrow if the weather is bad (and it’s forecast to be) we are booked to tidy out the entire “Towel Cupboard”.  That will be a difficult one.

 

A day in the toon – 10 January 2019

Went for coffee with the boys and then decided to wander round Glasgow.

Finished off Colin’s calendar and with the ink barely dry, set off for the town centre. For once we were all there and the chat was good for an hour and a half until Jeanette arrived to drag Val away to do the shopping. That seemed to signal a breakup in the group and we all went our merry way.

I’d half intended going in to Glasgow for a walk and a bit of window shopping and as the day was still fairly light and almost dry, that’s what I did. Parked deliberately on level 5 of the multi so I could walk straight in to the ‘toyshop’ level of JL. However, there weren’t many toys at a price I was willing to consider, far less spend, but that was ok, because I was only window shopping. I think it’s true what the pundits on the news have been saying, there’s so many cut price weekends and end of season sales now, the January Sales haven’t the bargains they used to have. They’re just a means to ditching the Xmas tat they were selling full price a month ago. The great thing about them is the silence. No longer do we have to be assailed by xmas musak. Wizzard and Cliff Richard have now been put back in their box along with the mistletoe and wine.

Down Bucky Street and along Argyle Street looking for a PoD. I eventually got it in the form of the back of the St Enoch’s subway entrance. I joked with a couple of students who were also photographing it that it looked as if there was a queue forming to take the best shot. They agreed that it was an interesting building, but not as good as the old sandstone entrance to the station that’s now a Nero. I had to disagree with them when they said the cafe spoiled it. At least the cafe had changed the building only very slightly. It could have been a lot worse. We agreed to differ and went our separate ways.

That was about the extent of my Glasgow walk. I did buy myself a pair of bluetooth headphones just because they were cheap and looked better than the other ones I’d bought last week. I was right, they were fine. Got two songs out of them before the battery died.

Finally found out how to retrieve the call list on the Juke. If you delete the phone from the Juke’s system, then plug it in using a USB cable, it installs it again and the call list reappears fully loaded with its previous numbers. Why you need to connect it with a cable when it’s a Bluetooth system, only Nissan knows. Also, it’s only the iPhone that needs this connection.

There was a slight patter of tiny rodent feet tonight and there had been the same on Tuesday night. Certainly not as much as before, but it will be reported to the “Rat Man”when he returns tomorrow.

Because we need to wait for the “Rat Man” tomorrow we have no other plans. If he comes early, which we suspect he will, we may go out to lunch.

New hair, Old friends

We drove in to Glasgow today, just to get out of Cumbersheugh, but we came back.

My hair badly needed cut. If I did it myself it would just be cut badly. If we went to Glasgow, it would be cut properly. No contest. For a change we parked up at Cowcaddens and for the umpteenth time, we didn’t see even one cow. Why do they insist in giving places these confusing names. While Scamp wandered round the shops, I walked down to West Nile Street (which, it turned out, is not even near the Nile), sat down and had my locks cropped by a nice Polish lady. She did a very good job and I was happy to give her a tip. I told her not to visit Cowcaddens if she was at all interested in dairy farming.

Met Scamp back on Sauchiehall Street and we decided that lunch time was approaching so we headed down to Charcoals where I had Chicken Bhuna and Scamp had Aloo Saag. Mine was fine, but Scamp’s Aloo (potatoes) were nearly black. We didn’t pay that much for the lunch, so we couldn’t really complain. £20 for two starters, two mains, rice, a naan bread and two drinks is a very small price to pay.

Walked back up to Sauchiehall Street for Scamp to visit some more shops while I wandered round Waterstones. After that we went for a coffee in Costa where we met an old salsa friend. We sat and talked for an hour or so, just catching up. It was really good to see her again, I think it must be about three years since we’d last spoken to Elsie. We both felt she seemed quite lonely, having finally broken up with her once boyfriend George, and I think we both felt quite sorry for her.

Drove home and I built a new boot disk for the old Raspberry Pi that Val gave me more than four years ago. Booted it up and it ran just the same as ever! Not got a lot of use for it because it doesn’t have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth. It was just a wee challenge.

Watched the start of the new dance program on BBC. About ten minutes in, we both decided it was too dire to be bothered with and removed it from our recording schedule. Afterwards, we watched an episode of Marie Kondo’s series on Netflix (yes Hazy, I did watch it.) Interesting, but “Oh my God” <sic> that repetitive and superfluous phrase from the american woman became really annoying. I might watch another episode, but maybe with the sound turned down or preferably off.

PoD was from Sauchiehall Street. The woman was singing Tracy Chapman songs while accompanying herself on guitar and drum. Very entertaining and it brought a bit of sunshine into a very dull day.

Broke a cap on one of my front teeth tonight.  That’s what happens when you eat too many sticky caramels.  Luckily(?) I have an appointment with the dentist booked for a week on Monday.  Oh what fun!

Tomorrow? No plans as yet. Maybe taking Marie Kondo’s advice and tackling another cupboard.

Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.